Trends, Products, and Best Practices to Help You Create a Work Made Human Experience

New Oracle HCM Research Reveals the 7 Themes That Drive Employee Engagement

Richard Cheeseman
Director HCM Applications Marketing EMEA

The traditional model of employee engagement worked in the past. But as the workforce becomes more empowered and technologically savvy, organizations need to change the way they measure and analyze employee sentiment, productivity, and loyalty.

Through new research we commissioned from Kantar TNS, Oracle Human Capital Management has developed this new model. Using feedback from nearly 5,000 employees in countries around the globe, we’ve identified seven core themes that drive engagement. In our first blog post of this series, we shared details on the survey, how it was conducted, and how our new model was developed.

In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at the seven themes and some of the key trends revealed in the research report:


1. Leadership

Leaders are at the heart of the model because they set the tone for their organizations. They’re expected to build and enforce company culture, and live and breathe the values they’re trying to instill in their employees. At the same time, they’re expected to consistently communicate with employees, offer guidance so employees can improve in their roles, and even provide opportunities for them to enrich their skills and progress in the organization.

Given their significant role in the business, leaders have a tremendous impact on how employees perceive the organization—for better and for worse. And as of now, it’s for worse.

Less than half of our survey respondents (47%) said their leaders are available and approachable, and even fewer (44%) said they have confidence in the leadership of their company. Clearly, organizations have a lot of work to do to find the right leaders that instill the values and culture they need to improve employee sentiment.


2. Values

An organization’s values comprise several elements: the social or charitable causes it supports; the personal lifestyles it promotes and supports; and even how its leaders set objectives, measure performance, and reward and recognize employees.

Now more than ever, people want to work for organizations that have a culture, values, and beliefs that align with their own. Yet just 38% of survey respondents said their company supports causes that are important to them. The same number of employees also said their organizations are concerned with their welfare, leaving 62% who don’t believe that.

Organizations need to ensure that the values they’re perceived to uphold are in line with the causes, values, and lifestyles their employees support.


3. Performance

Organizations of all sizes and across all industries are driven by performance. A company’s leadership team defines what good performance looks like, and how they reward and recognize employees who meet or exceed these standards.

Through an ongoing review process, leaders should communicate one-on-one with employees. During these conversations, leaders and their workforce should discuss their current performance, personal and professional objectives, areas of improvement, and ways they can flourish in their current roles or move around within the organization. As the year progresses, managers should communicate with employees and identify ways their roles can adapt to new challenges, new areas of focus, and new business opportunities.

So, where do organizations stand today? Just 46% of survey respondents said their performance is assessed periodically, and only 58% said their roles have adapted over the years to align with the new needs of the organization. In our world of instant feedback, these results aren’t acceptable. Organizations and their leaders can’t afford to sidestep performance reviews or consistent check-ins with employees.


4. Development and Progression Opportunities

Also known as talent management, development and progression of current employees are just as important as filling open roles. All employees want to feel as if they have the opportunity to hone and expand their skills and continue to add value to their organization.

As a result, development and progression opportunities have become just as important as day-to-day line management. With each new employee, leaders must not only identify the skills required to succeed in a specific role, but also provide learning and development opportunities so they can further excel or have an opportunity to move to new positions within the organization.

More often than not, however, organizations aren’t giving employees the development and advancement opportunities they crave. Less than half of employees participating in the survey said they had a career development review in the past 12 months (47%), and even fewer (45%) said they had learning and training linked to development opportunities (45%).

With a mere 43% of employees saying their organization actively encourages promotion within, it’s clear that businesses need to improve their development and progression plans and promote those plans more extensively to their workforce.


5. Role Effectiveness

Employees who don’t have the urge to move up or change their roles in the organization still need clarity regarding their performance, how they’re contributing to the organization, and future goals and expectations for them. They want to be able to communicate with leadership and identify opportunities to excel, innovate, and improve how they work and perform every day.

More than two-thirds (68%) of survey respondents said they know what’s expected of them in their role. While this number is higher than many of the results, it should be much higher. There needs to be an expectation from the top that leaders connect with their employees and give them the direction, tools, responsibilities, and freedom they need to do their jobs successfully. In fact, it should be one of every organization’s top priorities.


6. Rewards

Increased pay or bonuses are powerful short-term incentives, but the reality is that organizations only have so much money to go around. As a result, leaders need to think creatively and find new ways to recognize their workforce—especially because less than half of all employees said they’re getting the appropriate rewards (36%) and compensation (41%) they desire.

To solve this issue, organizations should test different non-financial perks and incentives to see how employees respond. For example, try rewarding a top-performing sales rep with comp vacation days or give your most productive employees the option to work from home. You can also show you appreciate your employees’ hard work by publicly recognizing their efforts or by offering them special development and learning opportunities. These are compelling rewards that will drive employees to perform their very best.


7. Modern Workforce Experience

The backbone of the employee engagement model is the modern workforce experience, which enables flexible, enterprise-wide collaboration. The key to success not just today but in the future is giving everyone in the company the power and opportunity to share knowledge, work together, and pool expertise to conjure up new ideas.

Mobile-optimized learning and communication, collaborative social communities, and personalized learning and development based on powerful analytics position organizations to empower employees at all stages—from onboarding to development and progression—within the organization. Although just 44% of our survey respondents said their company uses the latest technology to enable them to perform their role, this is an area that’s experiencing significant movement and will only grow more important in the coming years.

When we take all of the survey data into account, there’s one key takeaway that all HR professionals should know: Engagement is no longer sparked by traditional, transactional relationships. To engage your employees today and in the future, you must forge stronger, broader relationships between the organization and individual employees and build trust and ongoing communication based on opportunity, values, and culture.

This brief summary is a snapshot of the findings, takeaways, and best practices included in our final report. Download your copy of the full report to learn how your organization can cultivate a culture of engagement.

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